Mixed news for former Cubs on Hall of Fame ballot

Mixed news for former Cubs on Hall of Fame ballot

While four deserving stars will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, no Cubs will be among the crowd.

It was a mixed bag for former North Siders on the ballot this winter.

Neither Kerry Wood nor Carlos Zambrano received enough votes (5 percent) to remain on the ballot. In fact, Zambrano did not receive even one vote from any of the 422 Baseball Writers Association of America voters. Wood had two votes, good for 0.5 percent.

Sammy Sosa, however, received just enough votes to remain on the ballot for 2019, as 33 writers included him among their possible entrants into baseball's most prestigious honor. That represents a slight dip for Sosa, who had 38 votes on 2017's ballot.

In the years he's been on the ballot, Sosa has had to sweat it out each time, narrowly hanging on:

2013 - 71 votes (12.5 percent)
2014 - 41 votes (7.2 percent)
2015 - 36 votes (6.6 percent)
2016 - 31 votes (7 percent)
2017 - 38 votes (8.6 percent)
2018 - 33 votes (7.8 percent)

Sosa has 609 career homers and is one of the greatest sluggers in baseball history. While his numbers are surely Hall-worthy, the issue dragging Sosa down in the voters eyes is his alleged link to PEDs.

Sosa also has not been allowed back at Cubs Convention until he comes clean about his past transgressions.

Meanwhile, Wood and Zambrano falling off the ballot don't come as much of a surprise. 

Wood pitched 14 years in the big leagues, but his career was marred by injury, as he made 30 starts in only two seasons and spent the last half of his career as a reliever. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1998 but never finished among the top finalists for the Cy Young. He was an All-Star twice and led baseball in strikeouts in 2003.

Those aren't exactly HOF numbers, but at least he has an awesome sense of humor about it:

Zambrano pitched 12 years in the majors, almost all as a starting pitcher. He won 132 games and pitched 1,959 innings, but only led the league twice in any major category — wins in 2006 (16) and HR/9 in 2003 (0.4). 

"Big Z" was a three-time All-Star and finished fifth in NL Cy Young Voting three times (2004, 2006, 2007) and even found his way among MVP finalists (28th) in 2004 when he went 16-8 with a 2.75 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 188 strikeouts in 209.2 innings.

Zambrano also won four Silver Slugger Awards, smashing 24 homers in 693 career at-bats.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist ready for robot umps?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist ready for robot umps?

Nick Friedell, Jordan Bernfield and Jay Cohen join Chuck Garfien on the panel.  Jose Quintana gets rocked early by the Brewers while Yu Darvish throws a successful sim game. Meanwhile, Ben Zobrist makes a pitch for robot umps… right in the home plate umpire’s face.

Plus Roquan Smith is finally at Bears practice.  Will his 29-day holdout put more pressure on the first round pick?  

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: 

Quintana's script against Brewers flipped


Quintana's script against Brewers flipped

Before this afternoon's game against the Brewers, Jose Quintana had a 0.95 ERA against them, but thanks to some first-inning longballs, that changed quickly. Milwaukee, on their way to a 7-0 win at Wrigley Field, had sort of stumbled in to this two game series thanks to shaky bullpen performances against the Padres and Braves in their previous two series, and given Quintana's past success against them, it didn't appear likely going into the game that things would change.
It took all of two pitches for Lorenzo Cain to homer to left, and then later in the first inning, for Ryan Braun to do the same with a two-run shot that gave the Brewers a quick 3-0 lead. Braun, who before today's game was hitting .143 without even an extra base hit against Quintana, ultimately homered twice.
"Everything he’s thrown me, he’s had success with," Braun said of Quintana. "Everything he’s shown me had worked for him."
As a team, the Brewers were hitting just .202 against Quintana, so they knew scoring opportunities would be at a premium.
"A guy as good as him isn’t going to make many mistakes, so any mistakes he does make you have to take advantage of," Braun said. "He’s had so much success against us, the odds were we were going to find a way to score a couple runs, we were able to do that against him today."
In the first inning, Cain homered in the first on a fastball left too far in the zone, and Braun on a curveball that didn't break away from the sweet spot. Braun's second homer came on a 75 mph curveball after Quintana fell behind in the count 2-0.
Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin said that going into the game, he was thinking about how much his offense has struggled against Quintana, but seeing them score so early eased the pressure on him and allowed him to work with his slider and fastball a little more aggressively.
"A couple of big-time players stepped up in the first inning, and I mean, yea, we've really struggled against this guy," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of the first-inning success against Quintana. "You put up three runs in the first inning with two homers, it flips the script pretty fast."
With the onus off of Chacin, he was better able to throw seven scoreless innings on the way to his sixth decision in his last seven starts. Today's was an especially important win for Milwaukee, who entered this week's short series three games behind the Cubs. Brewers players differed on whether or not they'd call it a must-win, however.
"We have six more after these against the Cubs, but I feel like any game is must-win right now," Chacin said.
Braun, who has seen firsthand how much games in August and September can change the course of what had been a successful season, called it a little differently.
"It’s pretty close to a must-win. If we want to stay in the division race, I think we had to win one of two, ideally you gotta win both," Braun said. "These guys are really good, you obviously didn’t want to leave here down five games."
Against the packed crowd of 40,441 Tuesday, Braun said that he enjoys the atmosphere at Wrigley as the opponent.
"I’ve always enjoyed playing here. As a competitor, there’s no more enjoyable atmosphere to play in than this. The more hostile the environment is, the more enjoyable it is as a competitor. This place is always packed, it’s always loud. It’s a very challenging place to win," Braun said.
Even with another win tomorrow, the Brewers will still remain a game behind the Cubs, but Braun said that he is thankful to be playing in meaningful games at this point in the season regardless. After tomorrow, the Cubs and Brewers play two series in the first half at September, one at Miller Park and one at Wrigley Field.